The Holmans of Summerside

I just learned today, while scrolling through various newspapers, mainly the Guardian, of  Summerside, Prince Edward Island, that my Great Grandfather Gabe Gallant received a long service award from Holman’s.  I’m including the news here.

Gabe Gallant Holman Long Service 3


Gabe Gallant Holman Long Service 2


Gabe Gallant Holman Long Service 1926-1951


Gabe Gallant Holman Long Service

As a result of this ‘find’, I gave my Great Auntie Gladys a phone call, the second one in two days.  I asked her about Holman’s and she assured me that the big brick building is still on the same corner, however they are using a lot of the space as offices and such.

Papie’s work was hard work.  For as long as Gladys could remember, Papie shoveled coal.  Holman’s sold coal at what she said was a very dear price to people and Papie was designated the shoveler.  He never had a driver’s licence, so that is what he qualified for.  Gladys explained that in the basement, everyone had a window shoot that you would open for your coal delivery.  You would use a pail to carry what you needed to heat your stove upstairs as well.  Every morning after the coal delivery, children would take to the streets with wagons and pick up bits of coal that had fallen during the delivery.  She said that a piece of coal was quite heavy, “so, just imagine what a pail would weigh?”

I looked a little into the Holman family and am going to go from distant history forward to the passing of Alan Holman who died in 2010, the last to work in the family firm, R. T. Holman Ltd.

First of all, Robert T. Holman.

A very thorough and concise biography appears in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.  A portrait of Robert T. Holman is linked to …

Historic Places in Prince Edward Island

  • 250 Water Street
  • Summerside
  • Also called: Former Holman’s Department Store
  • Construction Date: 1874 – 1919


The image of the post card, above, is borrowed from this website, but with no changes or modifications.

Another very well-written article about Alan Holman was written by Allison Lawlor as a special piece for The Globe and Mail on January 5, 2011.

“During the Second World War, Holman’s, which was located in an imposing rectangular brick building on Water Street, secured contracts from the RCAF Station in Summerside. In 1941, the company supplied bottled drinks, fish and coal. Also that year, the firm was awarded a Department of Munitions and Supply contract for $23,250 worth of gasoline, oil and fuel, according to documents compiled by Wyatt Heritage Properties in Summerside.”

This source confirms what, for me, was an unusual bit of news when I asked Gladys what Gabe did for the Holman Company and she said…shoveled coal.  I had to crack a smile when I read about Gabe Gallant up dancing the heel and toe at the annual celebration of long service awards.

Alan Holman

Alan Holman

Passed in: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Passed on: December 5th, 2010

Born 1915, died Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010 in Charlottetown. Alan H. Holman OC was the last Holman to work in the family firm, R. T. Holman Ltd. The company was created by his grandfather in 1857. He served as the company’s president from 1950 until his retirement in 1980. As a member of the militia, Alan was called to active service with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, and served overseas in Newfoundland, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Holland and Germany. He and his young family moved from Summerside in 1953 to expand the Charlottetown operations of the business. Alan was the driving force behind the creation of the Confederation Court Mall in downtown Charlottetown. He played a leading role in the establishment of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, and twice served as the chairman of its board. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1980 for his contributions to the business and arts communities. Alan was the youngest child of Harry T. and Constance Wright Holman of Summerside. He was predeceased by his sisters Margaret, Gerda, Keltie and Hilda, his brother Harry, his first wife Jean Crichton (1960), his wife Helen Judson Hogan (Oct, 2010) and his stepson Geoffrey Hogan (1992). He is survived by his sons Alan (Chrystyna), Harry (Brenda), James (Kim), John (Elise), David (Julain) and Philip (Ingrid), his step-daughters Carol Ann (Al), Jan (Herb), Bea (John) and Kathleen (Albert), 26 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Resting at the MacLean Funeral Home Swan Chapel. Funeral Friday from St. Paul’s Anglican Church at 10 a.m. Interment later in Floral Hills Memorial Gardens. Visiting hours Thursday 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Online condolences may be made at

I believe that there one of the Holman family continues to be involved in the Historical Society of Summerside and I think I just might be contacting him regarding some fact-finding.

Love my second cousins…

James Perry on the Holmans